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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,042,242  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 199

Lurker/Post Ratio: 164 to 1

Question of the Week: 17 - 12/4/2000

Does Older Equal Better?

Whether it is Traditional Wicca vs. Solitary Wicca or Coven Trained vs. Self-Initiation, there are folks on either side of the issue, "Is Older Really Better"? We have even heard of some folks 'padding' their experience (or years) so as not be called a "newbie" or a 'wannabe". Is there something 'wrong' with being a new seeker? Is there something inherently right about being what some call the "Old Guard"? Is there a point where revering the 'old way' of teaching/passing on the knowledge actually becomes 'resistant to change'? Should the new generations of Pagans follow closely in our footsteps or should they be free to break new ground? Can the old traditions survive if they do? Should they?

 Reponses:   There are 199 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

My Opionion On This Matter That Those That Are Starting Out Sould... Dec 4th. at 11:34:42 pm EST

Chaotic_Symphony (Unadilla, Georgia US) Age: 19 - Email

My opionion on this matter that those that are starting out sould consult thise that have been practcing for a long time and taht old in this case is outweight new but that is noto say that new can not improv on old but only after they know waht the old ways are so taht training is needed you can not learn everything you need to know from a book you need human interaction to learn mutch more

Merry Meet! On The Topic Of Does Older Equal Better....not Necessarily... Dec 5th. at 12:12:49 am EST

Wynterhawke (Oak park, California US) Age: 47 - Email

Merry meet!

On the topic of Does Older Equal Better....not necessarily so.
However, this is somehwhat of an emotional topic. Viewed from many different perspectives...
I realize some of the Old Guard do flaunt their "credentials" at the newcomers, and although I know some of the Elders are simply stating their experience. it can come off sounding superior.
I have joined in several wiccan and pagan chats and found that quite a few of the newcomers had very little knowledge in place..yet, there they were seeking "recipies" for Love Spells, etc.
The Old Guard recongnizes the manipulation of magick to curtail the free will of another as going against the Rede and Karma...however, some of the newcomers feel they are reinventing Wicca.
I am torn about how I view this topic. Ok, I will give my "credentials"...I am 3rd drge Hps with some 20+ years experience...does this mean I know everything? NO! Does this mean I think that Wicca is unbendable?NO! do I think there needs to be structure? Definitely!

Even If You Have Been Learning The Craft For 40 Years, That... Dec 5th. at 12:21:19 am EST

Callandra (Arlington, Texas US) Age: 34 - Email

Even if you have been learning the Craft for 40 years, that does not
mean that you have mastered, I am not ashamed to be known as e "newbie". Even thoough I've studied extensivly and have been initiated into a coven. I most likely will take several lifetimes to understand the world
and universe around us.

First Of All, Every Seeker Was Once A New Seeker. Having More... Dec 5th. at 12:33:19 am EST

Emily (New Haven, Connecticut US) Age: 19

First of all, every seeker was once a new seeker. Having more experience in the craft does not, in my opinion, necessarily speak of greater wisdom. As followers of a religion blessedly free of dogma, I think we should embrace the truth we find in our visions, our intuition and divine inspiration, rather than adhere to the teachings of others, regardless of our experience or lack thereof. After all, it is those inborn beliefs that are the most sincere. I do not believe that any two people, even within a given religion, can have the exact same beliefs. It is through these infinite variations of love of the Holy One who is the Lord and Lady, that divinty manifests itself and speaks to us. We each walk our own path, at our own pace. If we can learn from each other, so much the better! The young may learn from the old, the inexperienced from the experienced, and vice versa. It is when grow rigid and complacent in our beliefs that we become guilty of the very things many of us sought to avoid through Wicca -- for instance, of valuing one path over another, or establishing religious authorities that seek to control our beliefs.
Besides this, modern witchcraft is, indeed, modern. Its roots may lie in an ancient religion, or in a number of them, but there is no true justification for the claim that Wicca is the Old Religion itself. I personally consider this more of a strength than a weakness. Religion should evolve with its followers, it should LIVE. That is how it may remain genuine -- not through dogmatism. Blessings to you all.

This Is A Heady Topic. I Guess The Only Way To Truly... Dec 5th. at 2:04:22 am EST

Jonathan (Santa Rosa, California US) Age: 33 - Email

This is a heady topic. I guess the only way to truly answer is from personal experiance. I have never worked or worshiped with a coven, so I can not answer that side. I have a few friends and sometimes we find ourselfs togather for circles, and boy it is a grand and great feeling. However, being free to see things as they come your way is the only way I personally tend to learn. Be that from others, reading, listening to my inner self or finding a magical day and is all learning. I am fairly new to this "new" way. I can not truly measure my experiance in years because I have not dedicated years to constant pagan study. I have been aware of my-self as pagan for several years yet i find myself at times doing nothing and other times constantly trying to form up my pagan views. I think people should focus on what is important, be it learning form the "old gaurd" or striking out to new ground. Both concepts are a ligitimate(gads, my spelling is horrid) way of expanding yourself and growing. Fundamentaly speaking, our spirtuality must constantly grow with our experiance, all experiances from the mundane to the extraordinary.

Older Is No Better,nor Vice Versa. All That Should Matter To... Dec 5th. at 7:46:29 am EST

Matt (Auckland) Age: 25 - Email

older is no better, nor vice versa.
all that should matter to us is fire, air, earth and water, discovering these elements inside our souls and in the envronment we live from!
blessed be!
luv ya, witchie poo. NZ

I Have Nothing Against Teachers, Authors, Or People Who Pass Down The... Dec 5th. at 10:02:05 am EST

Oriole (Milford, Connecticut US) Age: 43

I have nothing against teachers, Authors, or people who pass down the ideals and rituals of Witchcraft. It is necessary in order for the religion to survive. The problem is that many long time practitioners, especially Traditionalists, feel that they know the only "right" way to do things. This reminds me so much of the Pope claiming that he, and only he, represents god and that you must live as he tells you. It is this very arrogance that turned me away from Christianity at a very early age. I hate to see it in Witchcraft.

Religion is an expression of thanks to the creator; there is no "right" or "only" way to do it. Most solitaries (rightly so) ignore the snobbish claims of traditionalists and seek their own path. Isn't that what Witchcraft is supposed to be about, finding your own path? Isn't having your own PERSONAL relationship with the divine a cornerstone of our religion?

Unfortunately, Being A Newbie These Days Is A Bad Thing, Because More... Dec 5th. at 10:06:39 am EST

SilverCat (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 25 - Email

Unfortunately, being a newbie these days is a bad thing, because more often than not, newbie translates into wannabe. And the new seeker is left defenseless, unaware of the trouble-makers who cruelly paved that road ahead of them. And just as what happens with parents and children, Elders in the Craft forget what it's like to be a newbie in a whole new world of spiritual possibilities.

There should always be a respect for Elders, regardless of whether it is a religious community. And the teachings should be listened to as words of experience. But it is up to the next generation to adapt that to the world around them and to help our religious community grow. Mother Nature makes subtle changes in her appearance every cycle-- so should we with each generation of Pagans. =)


Good Or Bad... Right Or Wrong... The Reality For Me Is That... Dec 5th. at 10:23:08 am EST

Aspen May (Central California, California US) Age: 29 - Email

Good or bad... right or wrong... The reality for me is that if I want to learn of this religion I shall do so on my own. Living in the "Bible Belt" of California doesn't give much opportunity for finding Elders to learn from.

When I first started on this journey, I wished for a teacher who could just tell me what the beliefs were, instead of sifting through so many sources and authors, many of who contradicted each other, and try to figure it out for myself. It was a very different way of learning than my Christian upbringing had been... where there was ONE book and ONE person (the Priest) to tell you what you were supposed to believe. Then I realized that for me, this was the strength in Wicca. I had to think for myself. And I think the struggle has been worth the result :)

It still hurts when another Witch tells me I can't be a "true" witch as I wasn't inititated by a Coven. But the thing about being a solitary is... I don't need that person's approval to follow my own path. :)

Bright Blessings,


As With A Great Many Things There Must Be Balance. Between Interest... Dec 5th. at 10:36:34 am EST

Andrasazel (London, England UK) Age: 17 - Email

As with a great many things there must be balance. Between interest in the old ways and keeping to traditions, and working towards a progression from them. In order to truly break new ground one needs to both have a good understanding of the old way, and a fresh perspective and openness to new ideas; a willingness to re-evaluate.

Age as a indicator of ability with this kind of thing is completely ridiculous. So is time as an indication of experience. Experience is just that. If you have been working with the craft for longer then someone else, it doesn't mean you have learned more or done more for that matter, and vice versa. These kinds of crude tactics to make snap judgments are wrong. Also it is possible that people may well have a talent for the craft which has to be taken into account.

It is all fine and good dismissing people's snap judgement stereotypes about "Newbies" or or "Oldies". All newbies aren't silly hyperactive's who don't understand the bigger picture of the craft, and all "Oldies" aren't people so encrusted in their old ways that they can't understand.

Here's what i think about it:
THe reason these judgements fail to judge fairly is because they are judging something which is inherrently false. There is no better or worse faith between newbies and oldies. Admittedly there may be a large number of people who are new to the faith who don't quite get the picture, and there are a large number of people who have been in it for a long time, who have lost the bigger picture along the way, but "THE BETTER" that we are looking for is neither age nor experience specifically - it IS the bigger picture: The ability to percieve and interact with the universe better and better, and study further how the universe has it's cycles, what magick actually is tangibly, and why we shouldn't harm etc etc. The Oldies Vs. Newbies argument is fought as a result of a lack of recognition of a bigger picture on both sides. Once you lose this you tend to lose your faith in general.

I don't know if this rings true with anyone. I'm only a 17 year old who's been wiccan for 1 year, witch since 12 years old, and does very little work on account of hiding his religion. E-mail me with any thoughts, i'd really be interested.


I Am A Pretty New Pagan Since I Have Only Been Praticing... Dec 5th. at 11:09:55 am EST

fairywhisper aka debi (wilkesboro, North Carolina US) Age: 36 - Email

I am a pretty new pagan since I have only been praticing for going on 3 years, most of that was tentative and unsure since I live in a rural area of the "Bible Belt" and had no one to talk with or learn from. Since I got my computer and link to the rest of the pagan world I feel that I have learned a lot, and become more secure in my beliefs. I look to "older" pagans for advice and help, but still look to myself for my main directions. Truth to one's self is my goal, so guideance and support can come from outside sources, but you still have to look to yourself for the main ideas and feelings that make you who you are.

Well This Is Indeed A Very Good Discussion, As The Following Of... Dec 5th. at 11:34:34 am EST

Michael (Dublin, European Union, Ireland) Age: 23 - Email

Well this is indeed a very good discussion, as the following of paganism is indeed rising rapidly.

I'm afraid that I feel quite happy with my healthy dose of scepticism, I, as an adult respect other adults of sound mind, and would not dare to assume that I am of of superior spiritual authority or experience, or on the other scale I would not view another as superior in a spiritual sence to myself.
I genuinely think that spirituality is not meant to be governed by temporal laws or rank.
People definately do assume an air of superiority when they believe that they are more experienced than another, this is an unfortunate result of our vanity.
I am personally disgusted whenever I see people put other people down in order to increase their own standing, be it in their own, or other peoples eyes. It is rather like trying to increase the height of your "mountain" by reducing the elevation of the surrounding landscape. It is selfdefeating, unethical and above all it is fake.
As for new versus old, well the current incarnation of Paganism is indeed less than a century old, so claiming that one tradition has more authority than the other is rubbish.
As for myself, I am refusing to put specific classification on my own conclusions, as I believe that there is some truth in many of the world religions and as a result I'd like to think that the sum of all these little truths holds some value.

While I relate closely with Wiccan, it would be a mistake to dictate strict dogma, it goes against every principle for which we stand.
Spirituality is a very personal issue and can never be dictated by external influences.
Morality is on the other hand often shaped by external agencies.

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